Literacy Project in East Kingston Region Reaping Success


The introduction of a literacy project in five schools in the East Kingston and Port Royal region has resulted in marked improvements in the reading and writing abilities of 150 students from primary and high schools within the area.
The literacy project is the brainchild of Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell who is also the Member of Parliament for the constituency of East Kingston and Port Royal.
Minister Paulwell, along with the principals of schools in the region, identified the need to curb the high illiteracy rate among the student populations not only at the primary school level but high school level as well.
At a meeting convened at his office last August, a decision was taken by the Minister and the principals to establish literacy centres in five schools in the region to curtail the incidence of illiteracy.
Rennock Lodge Primary and Junior High, Vauxhall Comprehensive High, Windward Road Primary and Junior High, Rollington Town Primary, and Elletson Primary were selected as the schools to implement the literacy project.
Speaking at the official launch of the East Kingston and Port Royal Constituency Principals’ Association and Literacy at the Knutsford Court Hotel recently, Minister Paulwell said he was pleased with how the literacy project had progressed since its establishment in January of this year.
He pointed out that the literacy project used in the schools within his constituency was “based off a model that we saw in South St. Andrew that had encouraging results.”
Congratulating the students who took part in the project, the Minister told them their participation was important, as “without a proper grounding and education, we are not going to be able to progress as a society.” Given the success of the project thus far, Minister Paulwell said: “I’m pleased to announce that we are going to redo the programme in the summer months. We are going to start at the end of June and increase the number of participants to 300 in the next phase.”
He further informed the gathering comprised of schools’ academic staff, students, and parents: “Come January, we intend to introduce the adult component of this literacy project because there are far too many of our adults who are unable to read and write. We are going to try and see how we can embrace them in the project.”
Minister Paulwell explained that the constituency’s Principals’ Association would be called upon to facilitate the late opening of schools in the region, beyond regular school hours, so as to accommodate adult members of the community for the planned literacy project.
Guest speaker at the function was Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson. She stressed the importance of literacy, telling the students present that “reading as a vehicle allows you to be able to renew your stock of wealth, not necessarily how much money you have but your ability to cope with life, your ability to reproduce whatever you have and the ability for you to make opportunities for yourselves where for other people, none may exist.”
Minister Henry Wilson advised the students that reading provided them with roots, which “will allow you to flourish and to grow. Like everything else you have to nurture it and the only way for you to build on what you have gotten over the last four months is for you to read and read some more.”
Also speaking at the function was the Principal of Rollington Town Primary, Margaret Bailey.
Giving an overview of the project, she explained that the programme catered to children from grades three to six in the primary schools and up to grade nine in the high schools.
Out of the 150 student participants, she said an average of 30 students were assigned to a literacy centre, with two teachers from the respective school assigned to the centre, and the school’s principal playing a supervisory role.
“In the initial stage of the programme, diagnostic testing was administered to the students in each centre. From this exercise, teachers became aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each pupil. This knowledge allowed them to design a programme that catered to the group as a whole as well as to the needs of the individual child,” the Principal said.
At the project’s end, she said reports from the school “indicate that all the children have shown improvement in their ability to read. Each student has moved up at least one level and there are students who have moved up to three levels from where they started.”
The educator thanked Carmenita Jones, a literacy specialist and a lecturer in the Language Department of the University of the West Indies, Mona, who conducted a series of workshops on how to teach reading.
According to Principal Bailey, “through these workshops, teachers were exposed to new teaching strategies. They gained knowledge and skills that they can share with other colleagues and practise in their own classrooms hence enhancing literacy in other children.”

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